Craft and Connection: Resources in the DMV for New Writers

Craft and Connection: Resources in the DMV for New Writers
1. Craft and Connection: Resources in the DMV for New Writers
2. Craft and Connection: Resources in the DMV for New Writers

Part 1: Writing Coaches

Michelle LaFrance (our amazing writing teacher!) is guest writing on our blog about writing resources and building writing community. See more about Michelle and her Hill Center courses here.

In the classes I teach at the Hill Center, I often meet people who have only just started to write. They are excited to dig into their writing and eager to develop some version of the “writing life,” but often find themselves a little lost when it comes to knowing which resources might be the most useful. Whittling down what they find online, an admittedly overwhelming list of resources—websites, books, articles, groups, coaches, and other services—is a daunting prospect. Finding a local community of writers can be even harder.  In this series of guest blog posts on writing coaches, writing groups, classes and retreats, I share several resources that will help you with your craft and in making connections with other writers in the DMV.

Writing Coaches offer new and more practiced writers an array of resources, from “write ins” to “retreats,” to personalized sessions that will help you refine your writing skills and receive feedback/guidance on your work.

Writing Coaches can be quite expensive, so be sure to ask for rates before committing to a coach. On that note: it’s a good general rule for new writers to keep in mind that writing teachers are paid professionals who will ask for payment for any services rendered, such as teaching a class, offering feedback to you, or providing direction on a draft in process. Writing is work; teaching and coaching writing is also work. DC and the greater DMV are home to a number of excellent professionals, services, and centers that can provide personalized, private, and group-oriented support. Be sure to recognize their professional stature by compensating them for their time.

Three local coaching services, I recommend:

  • Heart Head Hands—When students ask me about private writing coaches, I send them to Beth Godbee without hesitation. Beth takes a holistic and mindful approach to clients’ writing and interests, working as an “ideas editor” who is interested in the client’s holistic health—the source of sustainable writing practices. Beth brings years of experience as a coach, editor, teacher, researcher, and published author to her work.
  • Best Writers and Editors—I’ve only ever heard excellent things about this “Washington, DC-based consultancy of internationally recognized writers and editors with extensive experience in journalism and 130+ years on the job.” Best Writes and Editors provides a variety of writing, editing, and coaching services, focused on “mak[ing] your complex content clear.”
  • Between Two Rivers—Focused on building “writing community” via writing groups, writing retreats, and writing classes, I began organizing this group when students of my Hill Center classes asked me for follow up conversations and connections. Members of Between Rivers join a moderated Google group to co-mentor one another, share drafts, provide accountability, and enjoy the ups and downs of the writing life together. I provide coaching and support during writing retreats which take us to remote, wild locations for intensive work on a project.  

You will want to let your intuitions guide you as you seek out and select a writing coach. Many coaches offer a free consultation session to discuss your needs and your projects with them before signing on.

If you cannot glean this info from an online search or dedicated website, be sure to inquire into whether the coach has published in the area of your interest. Where and how much has the coach published? Do you like the coach’s work? How about the professional “vibe” the coach gives off? What type of writers does the coach tend to work with? Does the coach have a relationship with key editors or publication venues? Are they willing to make introductions to other writers and professionals? What can you expect from the coach in a session and what will the coach expect from you in terms of production?   

With a little diligent work in advance of your first session, you will be off to a fantastic and productive working relationship with your writing coach. May the community you build in support of your writing lead to a vibrant, fulfilling writing life—happy writing!

About Hill Center: Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital offers quality programming in a restored Civil War-era hospital commissioned by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864. It is a vibrant home for culture, education and city life, and serves as a hub for community enrichment.

Chloe began as Hill Center's Programming Assistant in June 2022, and now works as the Marketing & Communications Coordinator.

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